‘Occupy Wall St.’ actions spread to cities across US

‘Occupy Wall St.’ actions spread to cities across US
# 15 October 2011 12:59 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Thousands of young people, students, middle-class layers, and workers—both employed and jobless—have joined Occupy Wall Street protests here over the last several weeks. Zuccotti Park, a few block’s from the Wall Street financial district, has become a magnet for those who are being battered by the capitalist economic crisis and are looking to do something about it.

Some come just for a few hours, others have been camped out in the square for days or weeks. One university student from Virginia skipped classes and hitchhiked to New York to take part. Forty students from the University of Kentucky raised thousands of dollars to join the action for a few days.

United in opposition to Wall Street as a symbol of capitalist greed, participants represent a wide spectrum of political views. Handmade signs abound, often colorfully reflecting its wielder’s personal experience: “College degree=Unemployment. Thanks Wall Street,” “I am a social worker student who owes $60,000 in loans. I am the 99%,” and “F*** your unpaid internship.” A smattering of conspiracy theorists and a fringe of rightists are also present promoting their nostrums.

Inspired by the protest, similar actions have spread to cities and towns throughout the United States, tapping into a growing sentiment that something is wrong and needs to change. Under the Occupy Wall Street banner, many have joined in labor protests: from demonstrations in support of laid-off school aides, postal workers, and building workers in New York to rallies backing locked-out sugar workers in the Upper Midwest.

“I used to think the government had my best interests in mind, but now I know that’s not true,” Fashion Institute of Technology student Steven Robinson told the Militant.

“We need more jobs, cheaper tuition for college, higher wages,” said Marcio Martinez, a recent high school graduate.

Stacey Taylor and her husband are truck drivers who came from southern Indiana to join the protests. “We pay our share of taxes and the top 1 percent doesn’t,” she said.

Occupy Wall Street began September 17 as an open-ended protest in response to a call by Adbusters, an anarchist collective in Canada. Adbusters states it is a “global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs” whose aim is to “topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way” we live.

The first day of protest attracted about 2,000 people. When New York police wouldn’t allow the demonstrators to protest on Wall Street, they set up camp instead a few blocks away at Zuccotti Park, where hundreds slept overnight.

The protest gained momentum after cops arrested 80 demonstrators during a September 24 march and were videotaped attacking several women with pepper spray.

The arrests and police brutality, instead of intimidating the protesters, gave them a boost and won broad sympathy. More started streaming in from all over the country.

In the largest action so far, some 10,000 people joined an October 5 march organized by unions in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Among others, the protest was actively built by groups forming part of the Democratic Party’s left wing, including the Working Families Party and MoveOn.org.

The second issue of The Occupied Wall Street Journal, a four-color broadsheet, responded to criticism that the organizers had raised what they are against, but not any clear demands of what they are for. “No list of demands” was the headline of the editorial note. Arguing that the occupation itself is the goal, the paper said, “We are speaking to each other, and listening. This occupation is first about participation.”